Sayeth it Ain’t So! Shakespeare Gets Trigger Warning

Frailty, thy name is … college student. Or so believes the English Literature faculty at the University of Winchester in England, where Shakespeare’s Othello has been given a “content warning.” The play’s themes of “racism” and “domestic violence” “may be difficult” for the kiddos.

What’s notable here isn’t the idea of Gen Z-ers clutching their pearls over a grown-up drama, but that somebody somewhere is still teaching William Shakespeare. Are they not able to write postcolonial queer poetry, or? 

The 1603 saga about the titular Moorish (black) general features intrigue, jealousy, murder – all the good stuff included in the Bard’s best tragedies. 

The university defended the move, stressing that it’s not a “warning,” it’s an “advisory.” Besides: 

While we are not afraid to cover difficult topics, we believe that students should be notified in advance, especially in cases such as sexual violence and suicide, where they may have been victims.

Literature can sometimes wander into difficult areas, and responses to various literary texts can be profoundly personal.

They are right. MacBeth made me feel guilt because I had invited King of Scotland to come over, and then knifed him at night. When I last saw Hamlet, I was determined to get out of that theater at least six times. But I kept on waiting.

Since 419 years, people have watched and read Othello with no training wheels or guardrails. It seems they did it wrong.


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